|Twins hope to stay hot against White Sox|
Right-hander Kyle Gibson gets the start Monday night as the Minnesota Twins open a six-game homestand against the Chicago White Sox at Target Field in Minneapolis.
The Twins finished a productive 5-1 road trip to Milwaukee and Texas with the team's first-ever four-game sweep of the Rangers in Arlington. Jorge Polanco's three-run triple with two outs in the eighth inning snapped a 3-3 tie and was the difference in a 6-3 victory in Sunday afternoon's finale.
Minnesota was a half-game behind the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central when they began the trip in Milwaukee on Tuesday but returns home with a 2 1/2-game edge.
"Happy flight," reliever Sergio Romo said with a smile after earning his sixth hold with a scoreless inning of relief.
Romo, who earned three World Series rings as a member of the San Francisco Giants, was asked what a successful road trip could do for a Twins team trying to garner its first AL Central title since 2010.
"It's huge," Romo said. "It helps us keep pace with the teams we're contending with. It helps us keep pace with the standings. At the same time, it keeps us motivated. It keeps us animated. It keeps us energetic. It keeps us full of passion. It's hard not to feel that at this point of the season."
Four of the games on the trip weren't decided until the final pitch -- with the Twins winning three of them. Taylor Rogers got Rougned Odor to strike out to end Sunday's victory with runners at first and second.
"I've been spreading the word around to the guys, 'If you've noticed it or not, we're already playing playoff baseball,'" Romo said. "If we're able to finish this off and get (into the playoffs), I think we're going to be well-prepared based on the types of games that we're playing now."
Minnesota now plays three games against the rebuilding White Sox, who are way out of the division race but will start one of the league's hottest pitchers in Monday night's opener.
Right-hander Ivan Nova (8-9, 4.51 ERA) has won four of his last five starts and comes in off a 4-1 complete-game victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday. He allowed just four hits and an unearned run while striking out three.
In his last two starts, Nova is 2-0 and has allowed nine hits, three walks and an unearned run over 17 innings.
Nova is 3-2 with a 3.45 ERA in six career appearances and five starts against Minnesota. He is 1-1 this season and allowed two hits and an unearned run in six innings in a 5-1 victory on July 27 in his last start against the Twins.
Gibson (11-5, 4.28) is 9-4 with a 2.74 ERA in 16 career starts against the White Sox. He is 2-0 in two starts this season including a 11-1 win on July 28 in Chicago when he allowed one run on seven hits while striking out nine in six innings.
Chicago comes into the contest after dropping three of four games against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., including a 9-2 loss in Sunday afternoon's finale. Highly-touted rookie right-hander Dylan Cease (2-6) suffered the loss after allowing five runs on seven hits in five-plus innings, including a three-run homer to Matt Thaiss and a solo shot to Kole Calhoun. He has allowed 10 homers in 44 innings.
"He's been leaving pitches out over the plate a little bit more consistently," Chicago manager Rick Renteria told MLB.com. "And this is the big leagues. Most of these guys are going to be able to consistently get the barrel to the baseball. It doesn't matter how hard you throw."
--Field Level Media